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For Quince sake? Why can’t I do pretty?

I never had a Quinceañera, but my little sister did. It wasn’t a traditional one though. She participated in a fancy upper crust Latina ceremony with other girls at a ritzy resort. I swear I went, but my mom says I missed it. It was a long time ago, I don’t remember. Geez, I haven’t even seen that movie yet, but it is in my NetFlix queue.

Bad, I know. As a third generation Mexican-American, shouldn’t I know all about this backwards and forwards? Especially the crafty opportunities. Yearly at the craft convention, there is always a “Hispanics & Crafting” panel (current research shows that more than 50% of Latinos craft on a regular basis! ), a few of which I’ve sat on. The topic of Quinceañera ALWAYS comes up – “It’s just like a wedding, and just about every Hispanic household has one if they have a daughter! There is oodles of money to be made!” Part of me cringes because in my world, Quinceañera aren’t around that much that I know of.

So imagine the fear that came over me when I was asked to help with the Quinceañera tablescape at the Designer Showcase at this summer’s craft convention. Part of me wanted to admit I’d be better for a beach theme, or maybe a rockabilly roller girls theme. The other half of my brain (and spirit) told me to be thankful for the opportunity, and to stretch my skills. Especially because of the theme!

I went with the latter.

I got down to business. Quinces are formal, like a wedding. It’s a time for girls to crossover from Hannah Montana to Hilary Duff. It must be classy. And gorgeous. Did I say elegant? Yes, elegant too.

Before I even started to sketch, I read a copy of this new hilarious book called, Fifteen Candles: 15 Tales of Taffeta, Hairspray, Drunk Uncles, and other Quinceañera Stories by Adriana Lopez. i love it because it is a collection of essays from various writers about their quince nightmares. For once, I felt like I was semi-there!
Fifteen Candles book cover on craftychica.com

I’m stalling, let me get on with the story.

The theme for our tablescape is butterflies, and the color scheme is blue, silver and white. I was assigned to create a table cloth, napkins, and a seat cover. Sounds pretty, huh?

Ugh! OK, that’s my problem. I can’t do pretty! I’ve tried in the past, and I always stumble. Blue and silver are chuckholes in my artsy road of life. My crafty Kryptonite. I’m crippled without my hot pink glitter!

*Deep breath*, I can do this. Pretty, classy, elegant, I chanted to myself. (Breathes heavily, like a pregnant lady in labor.)
Pretty. Classy. Elegant.
Pretty. Classy. Elegant.

“Focus…focus…”, I thought as I began my sketches. I’m an official “professional craft designer” now, and I have to be able to whip out anything on the spot, and make it gasp worthy.

Pretty! Classy! Elegant! Yes. Yes…YES!!!


I did tie dye.

WAIT! Before you shake your head in shame, let me explain. I was cruising through this super cute site called Quince Girl. And lookie! They have a BEACH theme! Those pictures of the coconut drinks gave me full on liberty to interpret “blue” as “Caribbean Blue” – which is actually teal. I can do teal! And teal looks awesome with hot pink, purple, and – yes…SILVER!

So the crafty chica wheels began to turn in my brain, and I thought about doing something bright and fun with the butterfly theme. Tattoo-style butterflies to give my qunice projects a little edge. I sketched a design for Patrick, and within minutes, my honey made me this:

See why I love him so much? This butterfly, well, is super fly!

I printed a bunch of them on fabric sheets, and then made some ribbons, and printed out words on them that any decent 15-year-old girl should be thinking about at her party: courage, education, strength, family, love, culture, etc…OK, maybe not at her party, but at least the next day!

After I made the napkins and chair cover, I started feeling guilty, and worried my stuff won’t match the other designer’s items. They are fabulous designers. I’m so not worthy!! I’m stressing big time because everything needs to go together as one cohesive, glamorous Quinceañera tablescape. Leave it to me, the only Mexican chick in the group, to throw everyone off track!

When it came to the tablecloth, I only colored the center and the edges. Just to be “normal”, I left a lot of open white space. And that white space was killing me as the minutes ticked by. So I added more butterflies. And glitter on the butterflies. And spray glitter all over the whole damn thing. It still needed something else, I couldn’t put my finger on it. I asked Patrick and he told me, “You should have just gone all the way and dyed the tablecloth teal too!” Be proud and confident!” Of course, that was after he told me it looked a little too “kid” like.

Oh, well. It’s too late now. It’s been sent out. Please do the sign of the cross with me right now. Thanks. I’m due to arrive at the craft convention Thursday, and I’ll be biting my nails the entire time, wondering if my goodies pass.

All this time spent in Quince World reminded me that Maya turns 15 next year. As I slipped the rubber bands around the napkins, getting ready to dip them in the dye, I fantasized about throwing Maya a sparkly Quinceañera. A pretty, classy and, yes, elegant one! With a beach theme! It’s a year away, we could start saving our pennies now.

Later in the day, I sat her down, and held her hands in excitement.

“Maya! What do you think about having a Quinceañera next year for when you turn 15? You know? To celebrate you becoming a young lady? I know all about how to do it! I’m a pro now!”

“Wow! Cool, thanks!” she replied. She then bit at the dark purple polish on her thumbnail. She does that when she is deep in thought. “Hmmm…actually, could I ask for something else instead?”

I scrunched my brows, confused. “Um, I guess…What did you have in mind?”

She hopped up. “Paris! Can the four of us go to Paris next year? It will probably cost the same, and it’s something we can all do together! Please?”

The kid was right. DeAngelo graduates from high school next year. He deserves a coming-of-age fiesta too! Thanks to the Quinceañera tablescape, Los Murillos are planning a trip across the pond!

Viva la mariposa!

Author of Crafty Chica’s Art de la Soul: Glittery Ideas to Liven Up Your Life ($19.95, Rayo Books, an imprint of Harper Collins).

Beehive Wig

My novel sold! Let’s party in Chicago!


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